3 Saints players entering the last chance saloon in 2021
By Kristen Wong
1. Tre’Quan Smith
Maybe if all fans tweeted #GetMikeHelp at the same time, Payton would finally cash in on a top-caliber wide receiver.
For the time being, though, we have Tre’Quan Smith to deal with, who’s all out of second chances. It’s No. 2 receiver or bust for him this season.
Andrew Erickson of PFF sums up Smith’s New Orleans career perfectly: “he’s shown almost zero progression through his three NFL seasons.”
Smith can give all the excuses he wants for his mediocre performances, and here are just a few of them:
- He was playing behind an elite trio of Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr., and Emmanuel Sanders for several years.
- Drew Brees’ declining arm didn’t give him many looks downfield.
- Alvin Kamara and Jared Cook stole a lot of targets.
But there are always flipsides. For the first, Michael Thomas was injured for most of 2020 – where was Smith then?
Smith started a career-high 10 games and one playoff game last season, but his numbers teetered more than two diabetic kids on a seesaw. Smith’s 53 targets, 37 receptions, 533 yards and six touchdowns were all career highs, but his catch percentage dipped, and his four drops landed him a career-worst 9.8 percent drop rate, the worst on the team for anyone with 50-plus targets.
While Thomas was out, the Saints passing game ranked 19th in the league, their lowest production rate since 2005. Smith must know he was a part of the problem.
Smith is right about the second reason (he was a lethal deep threat with big play ability in college, averaging 19.8 receiving yards per catch) and should pray for good chemistry with Taysom Hill. The third just makes him sound like a spoiled brat.
In 2021, the excuses end now.
Smith recently spoke out about the Saints not drafting a high receiver or bringing in veterans, telling ESPN: “I feel like they expect me to show up this year. And that’s just what I’m gonna do, and I appreciate that.”
Appreciate it indeed, because it’s the last chance you’re going to get.
The 2021 season is a contract year for Smith, which could be a huge incentive (does he need another?) for him to “show up.” Otherwise, Smith can pack up his excuses and take the next train out of New Orleans. The black and gold forgive only the deserving.